Friday, June 25, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 6/25

  • Federal scientists studying the history of water contamination at Camp Lejeune, N.C., have learned of another source of leaking fuel — this one less than a football field away from a drinking well that once served thousands of Marines and their families.
  • Unlike the previous public drama, this act will unfold miles below the seabed, as drill technicians begin delicately maneuvering a relief well that they hope will pierce and cap the gushing oil well. At stake is whether the Gulf of Mexico gusher ends in mid-August or persists, perhaps for months.
  • An investigator has determined former Gov. Sarah Palin's legal defense fund broke state ethics law and said Palin has agreed to settle the matter by having the trust return more than $386,000 to donors. The decision is the result of an ethics complaint filed 15 months ago.
  • Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is allegedly dipping into hefty Venezuela-funded coffers to bribe, buy and scatter the weakened opposition as part of his push for a second term, lawmakers and analysts say. And when money doesn't work, Ortega's ruling Sandinista Front is using strong-arm tactics to silence the opposition.
  • Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda, face 20 years to life in federal prison for prescription practices that led to the overdose deaths of 10 former patients of their medical clinic. They billed $4 million in inflated claims to insurance companies and were convicted on multiple counts of money laundering.
  • As American troops withdraw from Iraq this summer, expect the democratic freedoms Iraqis have enjoyed in recent years to recede as well. Already, the Iraqi government is restricting freedom of the press, expression and assembly. It's toying with Web censorship, torturing political prisoners and killing political opponents. Even with all of that, Iraq remains freer than every other Arab state, except Lebanon.
  • Rushing to deliver the broad strokes of an overhaul of the financial regulatory system before leaders of the world's major economies meet in Toronto over the weekend, lawmakers readied late Thursday to partially reinstate a ban on risky betting by commercial banks.
  • Some places don't want to be found. Just past the commuters at the Caoyang Road railway station and around the corner from the cafes, banks and clothing stores of Lanxi road, there's a hidden alley neighborhood with a dusty sign identifying it as one of Shanghai's model communities.
  • Aetna Thursday withdrew plans to raise premiums on 65,000 customers who buy health insurance on their own, becoming the second insurer to do so in as many months because of "substantial mathematical errors" in its rate calculations.
  • Ask Chinese architecture and urban planning expert Wang Wei Qiang about Expo 2010 Shanghai China, and he'll go on about sustainability, the preservation of historic buildings and pavilion design.
  • Amid calls for the Obama administration to make more changes to its strategy and leadership in Afghanistan, top U.S. officials said Thursday that while their strategy may be troubled, they think it's salvageable.
  • No end is in sight for the plight of hundreds of thousands of jobless people whose unemployment benefits ran out this month, after the Senate failed Thursday to garner enough votes to pass the funding.

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